Get to know our new trainees!

It is time to thank the old trainees Lotta, Arttu and Heidi and introduce new faces that will start working with the sustainability course. Sometimes it is too easy to forget how much work and effort there is behind each magnificent project so to say the least these triplets’ work has been indispensable. You all will be greatly missed, and it’s been truly a pleasure to work with you and get to know you!

Here are our new people working with university’s sustainability course:


I am Meri Mäkelä. Two years ago I moved from northern Finland to the countryside of Viikki to study in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability master’s programme. Currently I am working on my thesis about ecosystems and long-term climate change in the Arctic. In my studies, I have especially focused on arctic studies, sustainable forestry and changing environments, but I have also gained a wider interest in sustainability themes in general. My main responsibilities in this course planning will be to work with the groups producing content for the thematic modules. Also as a former biology and geography teacher, the pedagogical side of sustainability teaching interest me. I am super excited about this project! It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of the team developing so important course. I am looking forward to meet the working groups, start developing the material and learn more about sustainability!


My name is Ville-Pekka Niskanen (Viltsu in short) and I am currently conducting my non-military service at HELSUS. In the sustainability course development, I will take part in communicating about the course and content production. Moreover, I’m working with University of Helsinki sustainability initiatives, HELSUS communications and events. I come from the ECGS Master’s Programme, where I have focused on science and technology studies. Music and photography are my hobbies.

Last year, I participated in a project , where we interviewed five students about sustainability. The interviewees found that sustainability is not only about the environmental or economic aspects that often receive the most attention. Equality, friendships, and finding and accepting new viewpoints are central, too. This way sustainability is present in our everyday actions, in addition to the enormous changes that are soon necessary. I view the sustainability course as an opportunity to give its participants (all of our students!) tools for acting for sustainability – understanding and friendliness – in their future tasks.


Hi! My name is Saara Pörsti and I’m super excited to work with this project for the next five months! This fall starts my second year in Environmental change and global sustainability master’s programme (ECGS) and in my studies I’m focusing on sustainable cities and sustainable development. I also have a minor in adult education, so I’m thrilled to challenge what I’ve learned there so far considering this course project.

During my HELSUS traineeship I will take part in communications, event organizing and developing the sustainable course. In detail, my responsibility areas considering this course are content production, communications and I will also take part in managing the groups that will start working during September. This course offers a great deal of new learning experiences and I’m truly looking forward what kind of new visions might occur during this fall when the teams gather.

A chance to help in making a change for the better – join us in creating a brand-new sustainability course  

Our process for developing a brand new, multidisciplinary sustainability course at the University of Helsinki has reached the next stage – creating teaching materials and content, or the actual substance of the course. As advertised before on this very blog, the learning objectives and core contents of the course have been chosen, and to build on from that, we need you, the students and staff of the university. 

During autumn semester 2020, we will be establishing small groups of interested students and staff to brainstorm and produce content for the course over teaching periods 1 and 2. This could be anything from text, video, activating exercises, ideas for student projects, to evaluation criteria for when the course launches. The registration for these groups is now open and will continue until September 6, 2020.  

There are altogether eight groups – or thematic hubs, as we call them. They will each cover a segment of the course and work on producing materials that correspond to their topic. The following groups will launch this fall: 

  1. The Introductions-hub: Sustainability as a concept, the complexity of sustainability challenges and systemic approach. 
  2. The solutions hub: Solutions to sustainability challenges – students as future experts, individuals and citizens.  
  3. Thematic hubs:

A) Global environmental commons
B) Human well-being and capabilities
C) Sustainable and just economies
D)Sustainable food systems and healthy nutrition
E) Energy decarbonisation with universal access
F) Urban and peri-urban development 

The core contents of the course – the thematic hubs – are based on the United Nations 2019 report on entry points for sustainability transformations. You can read more about them on our previous post here. 

We have several roles for both staff and students within these hubs: 

  • Developing teaching materials (staff) 
  • Group leader (staff) 
  • Developing teaching materials (Master’s students) 
  • Testing teaching materials (Both Bachelor’s and Master’s students)

We will kickstart the work on week 37 in September with an event for everyone who signed up to the hubs. After that, the groups should meet every two weeks or so, either over Zoom – or in person given the situation with coronavirus allows for it. The groups can work and produce content in Finnish, Swedish or English.  

As the work is spread throughout the autumn semester, the participants can choose if they participate either in both periods, or just one of them. The goal is to finish the first version of the course by the end of the year, but it is likely some development work will continue in spring 2021.  

The participating students can receive a certificate of their role in the process. If you wish to, you can check with your degree programme whether or not this could be counted towards your degree studies in a suitable study module. If there are more enthusiastic students registering than we are able to accommodate, priority will be given first in order of registration, unless it is necessary to weigh other factors in order to ensure hubs are as multidisciplinary as possible.  

You can sign up for the groups here. Registration will remain open until the 6th of September 2020. When signing up, you can indicate which group you would like to work in and tell us when you would be available to join usYou can also describe your field of study/research and interests, if these are something you would like to utilise in the development work.